NVIDIA's 2020 GTC Becomes Latest Coronavirus Event Casualty: Now Digital-Only
Following the ongoing saga of technology event cancelations into March and beyond, NVIDIA has now become the latest event host to cancel or substantially alter a planned event due to concerns over the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The company's annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC), which as of just last week was still scheduled to take place with enhanced sanitization procedures in place, has now become an all-digital show. As a result, NVIDIA will still be holding certain events – including most critically, CEO Jensen Huang's keynote talk – just without the physical component.
NVIDIA's brief (and seemingly hasty) announcement is short but straightforward: out of concern over the virus, the physical event is canceled. In its place the keynote will be delivered via livestream, and NVIDIA is "working with our conference speakers to begin publishing their talks online beginning in the weeks ahead". Overall, NVIDIA is taking a route very similar to what we've seen a few other conferences plan for, allowing interested participants and speakers to still deliver their own presentations digitally. For many of these companies and individuals, they have product announcements or disclosures that have been in the works for months and/or are tied to other announcements, so they still intend to make those announcements in some form.
As for NVIDIA, the company has ample experience delivering keynote presentations via livestream – indeed for the many thousands of GTC attendees watching Huang's keynote live, many times that number are watching the livestream to begin with. So while Huang may not get to play to a crowd as he likes to do, he won't be without an audience.
Overall, this year's GTC is widely expected to include the announcement of a next-generation compute GPU architecture, making it one of the most important GTCs of the last few years. NVIDIA's current Volta architecture-based GV100 GPU is now a few years old, and supercomputer planning announcements have tipped the fact that NVIDIA will have a new Tesla accelerator ready later this year. The current generation of Tesla accelerators have been a huge success story for NVIDIA, so there's a great deal of interest in seeing how NVIDIA will keep up that momentum, especially in the face of stiff competition from all directions, from FPGA suppliers to Intel's Xe GPU family.